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Retailing in antiquity[ edit ] Marketplace at Trajan's Forum, the earliest known example of permanent retail shopfronts Retail markets have existed since ancient times. Archaeological evidence for trade, probably involving barter systems, dates back more than 10, years.
As civilizations grew, barter was replaced with retail trade involving coinage. These markets typically occupied a place in the town's centre. Surrounding the market, skilled artisans, such as metal-workers and leather workers, occupied permanent premises in alleys that led to the open market-place.
These artisans may have sold wares directly from their premises, but also prepared goods for sale on market days. The latter was a vast expanse, comprising multiple buildings with shops on four levels. The Phoenicians imported and exported wood, textiles, glass and produce such as wine, oil, dried fruit and nuts.
Their trading skills necessitated a network of colonies along the Mediterranean coast, stretching from modern day Crete through to Tangiers and onto Sardinia  The Phoenicians not only traded in tangible goods, but were also instrumental in transporting culture.
The Phoenician's extensive trade networks necessitated considerable book-keeping and correspondence. In around BCE, the Phoenicians developed a consonantal alphabet which was much easier to learn that the complex scripts used in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Phoenician traders and merchants were largely responsible for spreading their alphabet around the region. Established init is thought to be the oldest continuously operating covered market In the Graeco-Roman world, the market primarily served the local peasantry.
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Local producers, who were generally poor, would sell small surpluses from their individual farming activities, purchase minor farm equipment and also buy a few luxuries for their homes.
Major producers such as the great estates were sufficiently attractive for merchants to call directly at their farm-gates, obviating the producers' need to attend local markets. The very wealthy landowners managed their own distribution, which may have involved exporting and importing.
The nature of export markets in antiquity is well documented in ancient sources and archaeological case studies. In 13th century London, mercers and haberdashers were known to exist and grocers sold "miscellaneous small wares as well as spices and medicines" but fish and other perishables were sold through markets, costermongers, hucksters, peddlers or other type of itinerant vendor.
In Chestera medieval covered shopping arcade represented a major innovation that attracted shoppers from many miles around.
Known as " The Rows" this medieval shopping arcade is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe. A typical 17th century shop, with customers being served through an opening onto the street Medieval shops had little in common with their modern equivalent. As late as the 16th century, London's shops were described as little more than "rude booths" and their owners "bawled as loudly as the itinerants.
The shutters were designed to open so that the top portion formed a canopy while the bottom was fitted with legs so that it could serve as a shopboard. Glazed windows, which were rare during the medieval period, and did not become commonplace until the eighteenth century, meant that shop interiors were dark places.
Outside the markets, goods were rarely out on display and the service counter was unknown. Shoppers had relatively few opportunities to inspect the merchandise prior to consumption. Many stores had openings onto the street from which they served customers.
Markets were held daily in the more populous towns and cities or weekly in the more sparsely populated rural districts. Markets sold fresh produce; fruit, vegetables, baked goods, meat, poultry, fish and some ready to eat foodstuffs; while fairs operated on a periodic cycle and were almost always associated with a religious festival.
Market towns dotted the medieval European landscape while itinerant vendors supplied less populated areas or hard-to-reach districts. Peddlers and other itinerant vendors operated alongside other types of retail for centuries. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is often cited as the world's oldest continuously-operating market; its construction began in The Spanish conquistadors wrote glowingly of markets in the Americas.
In the 15th century the Mexica Aztec market of Tlatelolco was the largest in all the Americas. The English monarchs awarded a charter to local Lords to create markets and fairs for a town or village.
This charter would grant the lords the right to take tolls and also afford some protection from rival markets. For example, once a chartered market was granted for specific market days, a nearby rival market could not open on the same days.
Purchase decisions were based on purchase criteria such as consumers' perceptions of the range, quality, and price of goods. This informed decisions about where to make their purchases and which markets were superior.
Braudel and Reynold have made a systematic study of these European market towns between the thirteenth and fifteenth century. Their investigation shows that in regional districts markets were held once or twice a week while daily markets were common in larger cities.
Gradually over time, permanent shops with regular trading days began to supplant the periodic markets, while peddlers filled in the gaps in distribution. The physical market was characterised by transactional exchange and the economy was characterised by local trading.
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